Pair of Whooping Cranes Shot, One Dies

First Posted: Feb 10, 2014 03:27 AM EST

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division, LDWF, is looking for assistance in an investigation involving the illegal shooting of a pair of whooping cranes in southwest Louisiana.

There are less than 500 whooping cranes living in the wild in the United States and they are in the most endangered list.  These tall North American birds are protected under two different federal laws: 'The Endangered Species Act' and the 'Migratory Bird Treaty Act'.  Anyone killing or harming them face a penalty of maximum $100,000  or a year of imprisonment.

Despite these strict federal laws, the killing of a large number of whooping crane continues. On  Feb 6, the two whooping cranes were shot in Jefferson Davis Parish . They were recovered near the corner of Compton Road and Radio Tower Road. The female crane didn't survive while the male carne suffered major injuries after being shot.

The injured male crane was shifted to the Louisiana State University veterinary school, Baton Rough, for further treatment.  The male crane's wing was damaged by the shot. Both the birds were found during the early hours of Feb 7, a day after being shot.

"Anytime we lose one of these cranes it sets us back in our efforts to restore the whooping crane population back to its historic levels in Louisiana," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  "These were once native birds to Louisiana and the department would like to see these cranes thrive again in the future with a sustainable population."

The two cranes that were shot had reportedly developed a mating bond. Though they did not produce any eggs, the federal officials were considering 2014 as the year to allow the pair to breed, says Design &Trend.

The whooping cranes' population dramatically went down during the early 1900's due to habitat loss and hunting. These white birds are still critically endangered and the federal officials are brain storming on ideas to protect these fragile species. Nearly 50 banded whopping cranes were released into the wild with radio transmitters in order to trace their locations. Unfortunately, out of 50 just 32 survived in the wild. 

Early this year, nearly 10 juvenile whopping cranes were released in the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan to join 23 adults that are a part of an experimental population that is being surveyed by the LDWF.

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